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October 12, 2009

 

The colorful holiday of Navarathri

 

By Janani Ramachandran

Reporter, Youth Journalism International

 

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Janani Ramachandran/Youth Journalism International

“Color” is one of many words to describe my favorite Indian holiday, Navarathri.

The vibrant colors of the dolls that adorn the steps, the dazzling colors of Indian clothes on women coming in and out of houses, the rich hues and colors of the stories and heritage encompassed within the traditions of this nine-day festival mean Navarathri to me.

Celebrating the victory of the Goddess “Durga” over the demon “Mahishasuran,” this festival honors all of the Goddess forms, especially Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi.

As India is a nation of diverse sub-Indian ethnic groups, Navarathri is celebrated in different forms in each corner of the country.

In my family, we put up steps and place figurines on them. These dolls, usually made out of mud, papier-mache, or clay, can be anything – idols of Gods, characters in a marriage scene, people in a market, models of various temples, scenes from stories of Hindu mythology or something else.

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve taken pride in helping my mother set up these steps, known as the “Golu,” year upon year, always contributing my ideas and creativity.

Planning it and setting it up is one of the most enjoyable tasks as well as a bonding experience between us.

But beyond merely the Golu itself, the rest of the events that occur in the nine days all truly make Navarathri my favorite Indian festival.

We invite hundreds of guests to view the Golu, we prepare (and eat!) mouth-watering Indian delicacies each day, sing classical songs as we visit each house to see their Golu, all decked out in ornaments and traditional Indian clothes.

Oftentimes, I can almost equate Navarathri to Christmas in terms of the décor, food, music, and communal spirit among ones family and friends.

Navarathri is definitely the perfect opportunity for me to get together with family and friends that I don’t often get to see.

As I write this on the ninth night, the last of Navarathri, I lament its end, especially considering that I will be leaving home for college in another year.

But the memories created in each day of Navarathri are unforgettable, and will remain etched my mind forever.

Of course, there’s much to look forward to when I can start a Golu in my own house in the future!

 


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